Saturday, October 24, 2009

Baptism with the Holy Spirit = Filling with the Holy Spirit

1. All four gospels record John’s statement that Christ will baptize with the Holy Spirit (and fire, except Mark and John).
Matthew 3:11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

Mark 1:8 I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.

Luke 3:16 John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:

John 1:33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
2. Prior to His ascension Jesus prophecied that the disciples would be baptized with the Holy Spirit after a few days.
Acts 1:5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
3. On Pentecost, all the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
4. A few days later they were filled again.
Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
5. The apostles specify being “full of the Spirit” as a criterion for being a servant in the church. Fullness of the Spirit is, therefore, a characteristic discernible by fellow-believers.
Act 6:3 "Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. (cf. 7:55)
Acts 6:5 The statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch.
6. The Holy Spirit had not fallen upon any of the Samaritan believers prior to Peter and John praying for them. They prayed for them that they might received the Holy Spirit, and then when they laid hands on them, they received the Holy Spirit.
Acts 8:15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.
Acts 8:16 For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Acts 8:17 Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit.
7. Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit through the ministry of Ananias.
Acts 9:17 So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit."
8. At Cornelius’ house, the Holy Spirit falls upon those listening. The narrator describes Peter’s amazement at the Holy Spirit being poured out on the Gentiles. Peter speaks of the reception of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 10:44 ¶ While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. 10:45 All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 10:46 For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, 10:47 "Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?"
9. Peter describes the event at Cornelius’ house in terms of the Holy Spirit “falling upon them as He did upon us at the beginning,” and specifically identifies this as an example of Jesus’ prophesy that “you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 11:15 "And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as He did upon us at the beginning.
11:16 "And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'
10. Barnabas is described as a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith. Again, fullness of the Spirit is discernible.
Acts 11:24 for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And considerable numbers were brought to the Lord.
11. The disciples in Antioch of Pisidia were being filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. Note the imperfect tense. The ongoing nature of being filled with the Spirit could be interpreted iteratively, as in Acts 2 and then 4, or progressively as Ephesians 5:18 seems to imply.
Acts 13:52 And the disciples were continually filled (ἐπληροῦντο) with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
12. God gave the Holy Spirit to Cornelius and those assembled with him. The issue here is how δοὺς should relate to ἐμαρτύρησεν: antecedent time or means. It fits the contours of means quite well.
Acts 15:8 καὶ ὁ καρδιογνώστης θεὸς ἐμαρτύρησεν αὐτοῖς δοὺς τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον καθὼς καὶ ἡμῖν
Acts 15:8 "And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us;
13. After Paul laid his hands on the Ephesians the Holy Spirit came upon them. The variety in terminology suggests that the language itself is non-technical and descriptive: filled, came upon, fell upon, baptized with, received.
Acts 19:6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.
14. Texts not included above which use the language of “full of/with the Holy Spirit” are Acts 4:8; 7:55 and 13:9.
Acts 4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers and elders of the people,
Acts 7:55 But being full of the Holy Spirit, [Stephen] gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God;
Acts 13:9 But Saul, who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze on him,
At first glance, these texts seem more like OT texts where the Spirit comes upon a person for a specific purpose and for a limited time. On the other hand, in each of these cases, these people were previously said to have been filled with the Spirit, and in Stephen’s case especially, he was picked as a deacon on the basis of the fact he was full of the Holy Spirit. That data seems to weigh on the side of understanding Luke’s choice to include this characterization as a theological note to avoid the appearance that the special deeds done by these men were self-originating, but were rather Spirit-empowered. The point of this epithet is not to denote a new or renewed “filling,” but the fact of the Spirit’s fullness (i.e., controlling, empowering presence) out of which their actions flowed.

Conclusion: There is no difference between Christ’s baptism of believers with the Holy Spirit promised in the Gospels and Acts 1:5 and the Filling with the Spirit received throughout Acts. This is a Christological baptism with the Spirit (instrumental dative) and is to be distinguished from the Pneumatological baptism by the Spirit (dative of agency) of 1 Corinthians 12:13.


Anonymous said...

I liked your essay,some of it was over my head. I am having a problem understanding the diffrence of being baptized in the Holy Ghost and recieving the Holy Ghost at repentence. You can e-mail me at

Steve O. said...

After our discussion at the recent Aldersgate Forum, I looked again at Ferguson's brief treatment of 1 Cor 12.13 (pgs 87-88 of The Holy Spirit). It seems to me that he has a good point when he states, "In the NT en with baptizein never designates the one who performs the baptism; on the contrary, it always indicates the element in which the baptisand is immersed ...."

In my own study, it seems that the phrase "baptism en the Holy Spirit" as used in the Gospels and Acts always refers to Pentecost. In subsequent episodes such as Samaria or Ephesus, words such as "filled," "received," and "fell on" are used.

Based on the usage of the phrase in 1 Cor 12.13, it seems likely to me that it refers to the reception of the Holy Spirit at salvation, by means of which a believer is made a member of the body of Christ. It is used of Pentecost because that's when the church was constituted the Body of Christ.

Peter's statement in Acts 11 is a possible exeption, but there are a number of possibilities for what's going on there. It could be that when Peter saw that the Gentiles were filled with the Spirit that he realized that even they could be saved. Thus "the Holy Ghost fell on them" is a reference to the filling with the Spirit, while "I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, 'John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit'" is Peter's description of his realization that salvation was for Gentiles as well as Jews.

I haven't dug into it enough to be dogmatic on this, but based on the linguistic evidence, it seems the most likely view to me.

Philip Brown said...

Hi, Steve,

Thanks for your comment. A couple things:
1. Methodologically it is inappropriate to use 1 Cor. 12:13 as the basis for understanding either the Gospels or Acts. It is the disputed passage. The Gospels > Acts progression is clear, IMO.

2. Note that the NASB, NIV, RSV, HCSB all opted for "By one Spirit," in translating 1 Cor. 12:13. Apparently, a significant number of Greek scholars regard the context of 1 Cor. 12 sufficiently different to warrant a departure from the standard instrumental means use of en. I'm not dogmatic on this, but this disagreement among the versions highlights the fact that this is a disputed text, and cannot be a basis for an understanding of baptism en pneumati hagiw language.

3. Jesus states that being born again is an act of the Holy Spirit in John 3. He expects Nicodemus to understand this from Ezek. 36:25-27. Thus the baptism with the Spirit that Christ was to pour out in fulfillment of Joel is not to be associated with salvation. The Spirit was always the agent of regeneration and, I believe, was always present in the life of believers. The disciples were saved prior to Pentecost, had the Holy Spirit indwelling them prior to Pentecost, and received the Holy Spirit, not as a person, but in a ministry capacity that He had not filled prior to that time: representing the ascended Christ and functioning as Helper.

4. I don't see any warrant for the assertion that this language is "used of Pentecost because that's when the church was constituted the Body of Christ." I would be happy to see Scriptural argumentation to support the claim that it was used of Pentecost for this reason, but I don't know of any, unless it is 1 Cor. 12:13. But, again I reject this as a basis for interpreting the Gospel-Acts language methodologically.


Steve O. said...

You raise some good points, but first a correction: the quote I gave from Ferguson is originally from James Dunn, quoted by Ferguson.

Now to business :-) Numbers correspond to your numbers.

1. Methodology. I agree that re-interpreting an earlier book based on a later book is not good methodology. In this case, though, I don't think that what I'm doing is inappropriate for several reasons. First, "baptism en pneumati" seems to be a semi-technical phrase, and so I would not expect to find it used with as much variety of meaning as more common expressions. Second, the close connection between Paul and Luke suggests to me that they might use the phrase in the same way. Third, in 1 Corinthians 12 Paul is exhorting his readers to unity, and using established doctrinal facts as his basis. It seems an odd place to introduce a new concept (or to re-phrase a known doctrine in new terminology), but a perfectly natural place to refer to an already well-known doctrine. Fourth, the closest grammatical construction is in 1 Corinthians 10.2, where the Israelites were baptized "eis Moses" "en the cloud and the sea." Clearly here "en" denotes the substance in which the baptizing took place, and "eis" denotes the person into whose fellowship the baptism placed the baptisands.

2. Yes, different versions do handle the passage differently. It's a disputed text, and the versions reflect that. I just feel that the arguments on one side are more convincing than on the other (as do you, albeit on different sides). For example (as I recall) the Keswick position on this question is similar to the one that I am suggesting. I first started looking toward this position by examining all the ocurrences of the phrase in the Gospels and Acts, and for me, 1 Cor 12.13 merely reinforced my view.

3. I think we mostly agree on this point. When you say that at Pentecost the Holy Spirit began "representing the ascended Christ and functioning as Helper"--isn't that what He does for each believer at salvation? As I understand it, the Holy Spirit's ministry to believers changed at Pentecost in more ways than inaugurating entire sanctification. Before Pentecost, I don't think it would have been correct to refer to believers as "members of the body of Christ" because the Holy Spirit was not yet functioning as the representative of the ascended Christ. This is a function of the Holy Spirit after Pentecost to every believer, not just the entirely sanctified, and as I understand it, this is at least one aspect (probably the primary aspect based on 1 Cor 12.13) of the ministry to which the phrase "baptism of the Spirit" refers.

4. My claim that the phrase refers to Pentecost "because that's when the church was constituted the body of Christ" is a theological and doctrinal conclusion based in part on the reasoning outlined above, not a direct statement of Scripture.

Philip Brown said...

Hi, SteveO,

Here's a quote from Carson's exegetical fallacies on 1 Cor. 12:13:

"Or how about 'baptism in the Spirit'? Charismatics tend to want to make all occurrences of the expression refer to a postconversion effusion of the Spirit; some anticharismatics contemplate 1 Corinthians 12:13 and conclude, with equal fallacy, that all New Testament references are to the effusion of the Spirit all Christians receive at their conversion. The problem is complicated by the uncertain syntax of 1 Corinthians 12:13; but the worst problem is the assumption on both sides that we are dealing with a terminus technicus that always has the same meaning. There is insufficient evidence to support that view; and teh assumption makes it exceedingly difficult to handle the five passages (one in each Gospel and one in Acts) that stand in most urgent need of being treated carefully and evenhandedly as references to a step in the progress of redemption." (2nd ed., p. 46).

Fred Patterson said...

I am troubled by the unanimous proclamations in the Gospels that Jesus would "baptize in/with the Holy Spirit", and yet the Gospel writers did not feel compelled to bring this prophecy to reconciliation within they own documents. Only in John's gospel do we have the anticlimactic "fulfillment" where Christ says, "Receive the Holy Spirit". Luke's Gospel does point us to the future Jerusalem event, but even there I feel that the gospel writers - writing AFTER Pentecost - would have included so significant an event within their documents.

I don't have answers. I'm studying this myself, and just don't have the level of understanding I need to feel comfortable dealing with this subject.

Vyborg Christian Center/Vyborg,Russia said...

Dear Brother Brown,
I don't see any comment on the connection with Ephesians 4:5. This seems to weigh against the concept of there being two baptisms of the Holy Spirit. Either the baptism of the Holy Spirit occurs at or close to the event of regeneration or it is a subsequent event which may be separated from regeneration by some length of time. In other words, the concept of two baptisms, one by the Holy Spirit when we are regenerated and born into the body of Christ and a second one by Christ when He baptizes us with the Holy Spirit and purifies our hearts "by fire" is inconsistent with "one Lord, one faith, one baptism".
1Cor. 12:13 (in relation to 10:2-3) certainly seems to apply to regeneration by any reasonable interpretation. If we believe the New Testament was inspired by the Holy Spirit, I don't see how we can believe He would use the same terminology to describe two different events. Surely it is not exegetically sound to say the Gospels and Acts teach one concept and the Epistles of Paul teach a different concept on the same subject.
I am open to correction on this, as I have spent most of ministerial career with "two baptism" people, but I have struggled with this argument against two baptisms and cannot find a way to defend it that makes good sense. In the last few years I have met many serious Bible teachers who believe "one baptism" refers to the baptism of the Holy Spirit both in 1Cor. 12 and in Acts. Richard in Russia

Philip Brown said...

Hi, Richard,
Thanks for bringing up Eph. 4:5, "one Lord, one faith, one baptism." Several thoughts in response:
1. Contextual response: the word Lord here is, as far as I know, understood by all to refer to Jesus. Yet, kurios is used in the NT to refer to God the Father (Luke 1:32, 38, 46; Acts 2:34; 3:22; Rev. 16:7) as well as taking angelic (Acts 10:4) and human referents (Rev. 7:14). Thus, the phrase "one Lord" does not mean there is only one Divine person who may legitimately be referred to as kurios. In the same way, the term baptism is used throughout the Gospels and Acts to refer to Jesus' baptism of the Disciples with the Holy Spirit and Fire that took place at Pentecost (see main blog post), as well as to the baptism that the disciples were to perform in inducting people into the Body of Christ (Matt. 28:19-20). My point is this: Paul's "one baptism" language here does not require that there be only one event that can be called a baptism. My current understanding of this "one baptism" is that it refers to the water baptism that identifies the person baptized as a disciple of Jesus Christ, and has no reference to a baptism in/with/by the Spirit.
2. Theological response: Inspiration does not require or imply that the same term must be used with the same referent. There are many examples that disprove this idea: 'lion' used both in reference to Satan (1 Pet. 5:8) and Jesus (Rev. 5:5); 'serpent' used in reference to sinners (Matt. 23:33), saints (Matt. 10:16), and the devil (2 Cor. 11:3).
3. A key distinction: I understand the NT to distinguish between the baptism performed by the Holy Spirit upon new believers at conversion (1 Cor. 12:13), and the baptism performed by Christ with the Holy Spirit upon believers post-conversion (Acts 2, etc.) If I am correct, then it is important to distinguish baptism "with" the Spirit from baptism "by" the Spirit.